The Foreign Secretary and the Red Cross have condemned the "barbaric" beheading of a kidnapped British humanitarian worker in Pakistan.

Pakistani soldiers in Quetta

The body of Khalil Dale, a 60-year-old charity worker who had been posted in Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq, was found dumped by the roadsite in the city of Quetta on Sunday.

The health programme manager had been abducted by gunmen in the city as he made his way home in a clearly-marked Red Cross vehicle on January 5.

Yves Daccord, director general of the International Committe of the Red Cross (ICRC), said: "The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act.

"All of us at the ICRC and at the British Red Cross share the grief and outrage of Khalil's family and friends. We are devastated. Khalil was a trusted and very experienced Red Cross staff member who significantly contributed to the humanitarian cause."

The ICRC condemns in the strongest possible terms this barbaric act. Yves Daccord

The foreign secretary, William Hague, said in a statement: "I learned with great sadness earlier today of the killing of Khalil Dale by his kidnappers in Baluchistan province, Pakistan.

"Mr Dale, a British humanitarian worker, was kidnapped in January this year. Since then tireless efforts have been under way to secure his release, and the British government has worked closely with the Red Cross throughout.

"I utterly condemn the kidnapping and killing of Mr Dale, and send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones as they come to terms with their tragic and distressing loss."

This was a senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan. William Hague

Mr Hague added: "This was a senseless and cruel act, targeting someone whose role was to help the people of Pakistan, and causing immeasurable pain to those who knew Mr Dale.

"My thoughts are with them, and with all those who have dedicated their lives to assisting the world's most vulnerable people through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement."

Mr Dale's kidnappers are said to have bundled him into a car some 200 metres from a Red Cross residence in January. The Briton had been returning from a visit to a local school along with a Pakistani doctor and a driver, who were not seized.

Taliban stronghold

Quetta is the capital of insurgency-hit Baluchistan province, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.

Situated close to Pakistan's border with southern Afghanistan, it is home to the Quetta Shura - the Taliban's leadership council - and is believed to direct a considerable portion of Taliban activity.

In 2009, an American working for the United Nations refugee agency in the city was abducted and held for two months.

The Foreign Office advises against "all but essential travel to Quetta" and other parts of Baluchistan, warning on its website that "there is a heightened risk from kidnapping and militant activity" in the area.